Photo: Chris Weeks (Getty Images)

When corporate brands dangle free things in front of consumers, there’s usually some exchange involved. It might be the sharing of personal information for targeted marketing purposes, or an e-mail address to be added to a mailing list, or something humiliating like dressing up as a fucking cow for a free chicken sandwich. So really, it’s not as “free” as you might think.

Which makes today’s 7-Eleven Day—it’s July 11, Einstein!—a delightful anomaly. Today, if you walk into a 7-Eleven, you can walk out with a small Slurpee for free. Full stop. Neither your bank account nor soul will be compromised (though you may wait in line for 10 minutes). It is truly a nice thing. The one thing that unites our country. An annual ritual you can experience with co-workers in the name of camaraderie and corn syrup-laced iced beverages.

This year, 7-Eleven is offering a new limited-edition flavor—Cap’n Crunch Crunch Berries cereal—but I’m not willing to dignify this foreign substance, for a perfect Slurpee flavor already exists. It’s the Coca-Cola Slurpee.

Coke Slurpees were for me, and countless kids who took part in youth baseball, a happy after-game ritual. Because I’ve dispensed hundreds of Slurpees in my lifetime, I’ve honed in on a three-part technique. I employ this method because there’s nothing worse than arriving at the bottom of your Slurpee cup and finding hard slush denuded of its cola syrup. So what I always do now is the following:

1. Fill a Slurpee cup one-fifth of the way up with Coca-Cola Classic soda.

2. Fasten the plastic domed lid, then dispense the Coke Slurpee until nearly reaching the top of the lid.

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3. Bang the Slurpee cup against the counter several times to allow the Slurpee to settle, therefore allowing more space at the domed lid to top off with additional Slurpee.

Really, it’s a silly little ritual, but a comforting one nonetheless. And when I walk out of the 7-Eleven today having done my little dance, it’ll be a small victory. I’ll take small victories wherever I can.